Monday Morning Draft is back! This is a column that delves into the past weekend's action from an NFL Draft perspective. As the season goes on, the draft picture and slotting will become more clear, but every Sunday will provide a few hints for next April.
By Charlie Campbell.
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Race for the No. 1 Pick:
After jumping out to a lead, Detroit fell to 0-2 in Green Bay, where the Packers blew out the Lions by 21 points. Detroit had no answer for Aaron Jones. It was the fourth straight game in which the Lions have blown a double-digit lead. They blew a big lead to Mitch Trubisky in an embarrassing performance in Week 1 of the 2020 season.
Entering this season, head coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn were on the hot seat with the mandate to compete for the playoffs. Detroit has not drafted elite talent under Quinn and could definitely use an upgrade to improve the talent of the roster.
There are some excellent general manager candidates available, including former Texans general manager Rick Smith. Smith had a 10-year stretch in which he did not have a first-round pick go bust while landing J.J. Watt, DeAndre Hopkins, Deshaun Watson, Duane Brown, Brian Cushing, Whitney Mercilus, and more. Other good general manager candidates include:
Buffalo Bills director of player personnel Dan Morgan
Buffalo Bills director of college scouting Terrance Gray
Indianapolis Colts director of college scouting Morocco Brown
Buffalo Bills assistant college scouting director Lake Dawson
Tennessee Titans director of pro scouting Brian Gardner
San Francisco 49ers director of pro personnel Ran Carthon
Pittsburgh Steelers pro scouting coordinator Brandon Hunt
Miami Dolphins assistant general manager Marvin Allen
Washington director of pro scouting Eric Stokes
Seattle Seahawks executive Alonzo Highsmith
If the Lions were to land the No. 1-overall pick, it would make sense to take Trevor Lawrence and trade Matthew Stafford to start a rebuilding process in Detroit.
New York Jets:
The Jets are 0-2 and have not looked good in either loss. Before long, the locker room could quit on Adam Gase, and that could lead to the Jets having an abysmal season that puts them in contention for the top pick of the 2021 NFL Draft. If the Jets land the first pick of the 2021 NFL Draft, they probably would take Trevor Lawrence and look to trade Sam Darnold for draft picks to help build around Lawrence.
The Panthers lost at Tampa Bay in a mixed outing. They fell down 21-0, but making it a one-score game in the fourth quarter before the Buccaneers finally put them away. Despite being 0-2, the Panthers look like a team that will be competitive in games. They will, however, lose the vast majority of them.
Carolina has excellent skill position players on offense; Teddy Bridgewater is an efficient quarterback; and the team's young defense should improve over the course of the season. Thus, I think the Panthers could easily win enough games where they miss out on the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. If they do land the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, it would make sense for them to take Trevor Lawrence as their long-term franchise quarterback.
Let's Play Matchmaker:
This section will look at some of the top talent in college football and match those prospects up with teams that have a dire need at the position.
Cleveland Browns: Andre Cisco, S, Syracuse
The Browns prevailed over the Bengals on Thursday Night Football thanks to their rushing attack and a few big plays that were the difference in the game. However, Cleveland was torched by Joe Burrow in his second NFL game. Cleveland's defense really struggled in pass coverage on the tight ends, and the safety position has been a problem for the Browns. They signed Karl Joseph and traded for Ronnie Harrison, but neither is the answer. Cleveland could use a difference-maker at safety with hopes that Grant Delpit will come back to become a solid starter to form a tandem capable of locking down the middle of the field. With the weapons the Browns face in their division, like Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, wide receiver Marquise Brown and tight end Mark Andrews, they are going to need good safety play.
Over his first two seasons of college football, Cisco (6-0, 203) was a pure ball hawk for Syracuse. In 2019, he recorded 65 tackles with five interceptions and five passes broken up. Cisco had a huge 2018 season with seven interceptions, 18 passes broken up, one forced fumble and 60 tackles.
The instinctive safety covers a lot of ground and is a solid run defender while being a dangers weapon in coverage. He had another interception - 13th career pick - to start out his junior year. Cisco could be a good fit in the Browns' defense.
Indianapolis Colts: Kyle Trask, QB, Florida
The Colts' defense dominated the Vikings' offense in Week 2 to lead Indianapolis to a bounce-back win after dropping Week 1. While Philip Rivers was solid against Minnesota, Rivers is clearly a declining quarterback who is nearing the end of his excellent career. The Colts could use a young quarterback to groom as their future starter.
Trask would be a good fit for Frank Reich's offense. Florida's offense improved in 2019 when Trask replaced Feleipe Franks. Trask could have beaten out Franks for the job a year earlier if it weren't for an injury suffered in practice due to a hit from Jabari Zuniga.
Last year, Trask made good decisions as a passer and efficiently distributed the ball to his deep group of receivers. He improved over the course of the season, but he needs to speed up his process, get the ball out faster, and play with more confidence. He completed 67 percent of his passes in 2019 for 2,941 yards with 25 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Trask (6-5, 239) has a thick build and a powerful arm, plus is an accurate pocket passer. He could be a riser now that he has experience and more tutelage from quarterback expert Dan Mullen. Multiple team sources have compared Trask to Tampa Bay Buccaneers Super Bowl champion quarterback Brad Johnson.
San Francisco 49ers: Tamorrion Terry, WR, Florida State
The 49ers cruised over the hapless Jets, but it was a costly - perhaps pyrrhic - victory in which Nick Bosa and Jimmy Garoppolo went down with injuries. It looks like Bosa tore his ACL, so his season is over, while Garoppolo could be out significant time with a high ankle sprain. Jordan Reed stepped up and had an excellent game for San Francisco, but the team's wide receivers struggled versus the Jets. It will help when Deebo Samuel comes back, but the 49ers could use a big receiver to go with Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk.
Terry totaled 60 receptions for 1,188 yards and nine scores in 2019. As redshirt freshman, he made 35 receptions for 744 yards and eight touchdowns. Team sources are high on Terry's potential with his excellent combination of size and speed. The 6-foot-4, 203-pounder is fast for a big receiver and has athleticism. He has the upside and skill set to be a weapon in the NFL.
Green Bay Packers: Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama
The Packers dropped Minnesota in Week 1 and Detroit in Week 2 in convincing fashion, with their offense rolling over both division opponents. The middle of the Green Bay defense, however, has had some issues with players like Dalvin Cook, D'Andre Swift and T.J. Hockenson. Over last offseason, veteran Blake Martinez signed with the Giants, so the Packers could use a linebacker who can cover in the middle of the field and hunt down running backs. Moses would be a great fit for Green Bay.
Alabama has been a factory for linebacker talent, and Moses (6-3, 233) will keep that tradition alive for the 2021 NFL Draft, provided he can stay healthy. Team sources were really excited about seeing him in 2019, but a torn ACL in training camp ended his season before it started. Some sources thought that if Moses had entered the 2020 NFL Draft, he still would have been an early-rounder despite the injury. They were very impressed with his performance in 2018 when he recorded 86 tackles, 10 for a loss, 3.5 sacks, one forced fumble and one pass batted while rotating with other linebackers.
Los Angeles Rams: Deonte Brown, G, Alabama
The Rams cruised over the Eagles and are 2-0 after dropping NFC East teams in back-to-back games. With Cam Akers hurt, Darrell Henderson was Los Angeles' leading runner while Maloclm Brown contributed. teh Rams' rushing attack was nothing close to the potency it had with Todd Gurley in Sean McVay's first two years. Part of the reason for that is the decline in the offensive line talent. Los Angeles could use better blocking up front to get a more consistent rushing attack and improved protection for Jared Goff.
Brown (6-4, 338) was suspended for part of 2019 season, but he returned mid-year and played very well for Alabama. Brown is a load at the point of attack with the strength to open holes in the ground game and is a steady pass protector. Brown would be an excellent fit in the Rams' offense and would help to reestablish a rushing attack that makes Jared Goff's job much easier.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
Leonard Fournette broke oute for the Buccaneers on Sunday with two touchdowns, including a game-glincher in the fourth quarter after Carolina narrowed the lead to a touchdown. Fournette was only signed to a 1-year deal, and Tampa Bay may not be able to afford his next contract. LeSean McCoy is also nearing the end of his career, while Ronald Jones seems better as a rotational backup. Taking a bruiser to go with Jones would make sense for Tampa Bay in the 2021 NFL Draft.
In 2019, Harris averaged 5.9 yards per carry for 1,224 yards with 13 touchdowns. He had 27 receptions for 304 yards and seen scores as a receiver. Harris flashed at times, but some scouts don't feel Harris is the same caliber as other recent Alabama running backs like Josh Jacobs, Damien Harris or Derrick Henry.
Harris (6-2, 230) is a big back who has some quickness and athleticism for the NFL. Over the past few seasons, he hasn't generally run to his size and looked to bounce too many carries to the outside rather than use his power to run behind his pads in a physical manner. In the latter half of 2019, especially against LSU and Mississippi State, Harris aggressively ran downhill with decisiveness. His tape from the back half of the 2019 season will help his draft grade and definitely makes him look like a better pro prospect compared to how he performed at the beginning of the season.
Dallas Cowboys: Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford
The Cowboys made a huge comeback to beat Atlanta at home and avoid the dreaded 0-2 start. Dallas did an excellent job of shutting down Julio Jones (2-24), but Calvin Ridley and Hayden Hurst gave the Cowboys a lot of problems. Clearly, Dallas needs more talent in its secondary after losing Byron Jones and could use a corner to go with Trevon Diggs.
Adebo (6-1, 190) is a big corner who has cover skills and a tremendous ability to play the ball. He also has good instincts, but is an aggressive corner and will have to learn to play with more discipline. In 2018, Adebo recorded 64 tackles with 20 passes broken up and four interceptions. Against Northwestern in the 2019 season opener, he picked up where he left off in 2018, recording five tackles with two passes batted and an interception. However, he had an ugly game against Central Florida, getting roasted on some double moves. Adebo totaled 33 tackles with four interceptions and 10 passes broken up in 2019. Adebo and Diggs could give the Cowboys a big cornerback tandem that has ballhawk skills.
Team Draft Report:
In this section, we take a deeper look at specific teams and where they stand in regards to the 2021 NFL Draft.
The Titans caught fire late in the 2019 season to make a postseason run that saw them finish off the Patriots dynasty and almost make it to the Super Bowl. With head coach Mike Vrabel, the Titans have a fundamentally sound team that is tough, physical and disciplined. Tennessee has a few needs that it can address in the 2021 NFL Draft to help the team compete for the Super Bowl for many years to come.
Defensively, the Titans could use more edge-rush talent, which was why they made free agency signings like Vic Beasley and Jadeveon Clowney. Neither was signed to a long-term deal, however, so the team could use an edge rusher to go with Justin Simmons, especially if Clowney is not brought back in 2021.
It will be interesting to see if some pass rushers emerge, but as it stands early in the year,there may not be a lot of great pass-rushing options for franchises picking late in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. One candidate could be Washington's Joe Tryon. Tryon needs development, but he could be a good project for Vrabel. Other prospects to keep an eye on with early-round potential include Texas' Joseph Ossai, Pittsburgh's Patrick Jones II, Oregon State's Hamilcar Rashed Jr. and Florida's Brenton Cox. Improving the pass rush could be the top priority for Tennessee in the 2021 offseason.
If there aren't good pass rushers available, the Titans could look to help their offense. In my latest mock 2021 NFL Draft
, I have the Titans taking Texas Tech wide receiver T.J. Vasher. Vasher has an excellent skill set, including size and speed with a style of play that is similar to A.J. Green. Corey Davis is in a career year, and if he does not produce, Tennessee will need to get an upgrade for Ryan Tannehill. Late in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, the team could have other options like Ohio State's Chris Olave, Alabama's Jaylen Waddle, Minnesota's Rashad Bateman, Florida State's Tamorrion Terry and Houston's Marques Stevenson.
Another route Tennessee could go in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft would be some interior offensive line help. The Titans are set on the edge with Taylor Lewan and Isaiah Wilson, but they could use more blocking on the inside where they have the aging Rodger Saffold is aging and the simply average Ben Jones. Thus some interior upgrades could help the Titans to get more return on investment in the massive money they spent on Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry. Ohio State guard Wyatt Davis, Alabama guard Deonte Brown and Georgia center/guard Trey Hill would all be good candidates for Tennessee late in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
The Titans could be right back in the AFC Championship this year or next year because they have the fundamentals covered with a good running game and a tough defense. That leads to wins late in the year and in the playoffs. Adding a little more potency to the offense and pass rush could put Tennessee over the top.
Even though the Bengals are 0-2, they have reasons to be optimisitic as rookie quarterback Joe Burrow has played well and shown improvement from week to week. Considering that Burrow has dealt with a terrible offensive line, his play has been impressive. Now that Burrow is in place, the Bengals have to build around him to become competitive with the elite teams in the AFC.
First and foremost, the offensive line must be addressed. The pass blocking in front of Burrow and the run blocking for Joe Mixon needs to be improved drastically. Fortunately for Cincinnati, the 2021 NFL Draft could have quality offensive line talent. If the Bengals have a high first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, they could land a franchise left tackle in Oregon's Penei Sewell. Other options include Texas' Sam Cosmi, Alabama's Alex Leatherwood and Stanford's Walker Little.
In my latest mock 2021 NFL Draft
, I have the Bengals taking Cosmi, as I don't see them picking high enough to land Sewell. On Day 2, Cincinnati could consider Notre Dame's Liam Eichenberg or Oklahoma State's Tevin Jenkins. It the Bengals draft a left tackle, they could move Jonah Williams to right tackle, guard or center.
If the team looks to add talent to the interior of the offensive line, it could target some blockers early in the second round. Ohio State guard Wyatt Davis, Alabama guard Deonte Brown and Georgia center/guard Trey Hill would all be good candidates in Round 2 of the 2021 NFL Draft.
The 2021 NFL Draft looks like it will be loaded at the wide receiver position, and Cincinnati could consider adding more talent there for Joe Burrow. A.J. Green is aging, prone to injury and declining. Former first-round pick John Ross has been a disappointment and has the potential to be off the team before long. Hence, a third receiver to go with Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins could be a consideration after the first round. Cincinnati could hope that an early-round talent like Texas Tech's T.J. Vasher, Florida State's Tamorrion Terry, Houston's Marques Stevenson, Auburn's Seth Williams, Texas A&M's Jhamon Ausbon, LSU's Terrace Marshall Jr. or Minnesota's Rashod Bateman falls to its pick in the second or third round. Of that group, Vasher and Terry could be redundant with Higgins. Bateman might slide because he does not have great speed and drops lots of passes. A smaller speed receiver like Stevenson could be a nice pick as he would give the Bengals a diverse trio with Boyd and Higgins.
Defensively, the Bengals have had issues at linebacker for years. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt gave more proof of that being a weakness on Thursday night, so Cincinnati may have to devote a significant resource like a first-round pick to fixing it. Linebacker play is critical in the AFC North considering the Bengals have six games taking on an elite dual-threat quarterback in Lamar Jackson leading a phenomenal Ravens rushing attack, the Browns' backfield duo, plus Pittsburgh typically runs well also. In the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, Cincinnati could consider options like Penn State's Micah Parsons and Alabama's Dylan Moses.
The defensive line also has to be considered in the first round even though the other needs are more pressing in the immediate future. Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins can't play forever, so if an elite defensive lineman is available, that will have to be a consideration for the Bengals for the long-term talent on their defense.
One of the advantages that Burrow gives the Bengals is having their starting quarterback on a cheap rookie deal for four more years. That will give Cincinnati a lot of free agency dollars to help fill some of these needs while drafting the other spots. It might take a couple of drafts and free agency classes to get the Bengals restocked with talent to match up with the elite of the AFC, but at least Burrow gives them hope for the future of having a top franchise quarterback capable of leading them to competing for a championship.
NFL Picks - Sept. 19
2022 NFL Mock Draft - Sept. 15
NFL Power Rankings - Sept. 14
Fantasy Football Rankings - Sept. 8